The Bonsai Chi

By: XJfella95
October 29th, 2011
8:43 pm

The Bonsai Chi

Hello everyone. This is my first post but i have been lurking for a few years now.

My name is Brandon and I am from Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

I have been keeping Apostogrammas for a few yard now but have always wanted to create my own aquascape but never wanted to do anything too big. I was more the nano type of guy just for the small pure aesthetics.

I had bought a Fluval Chi that I was keeping a goldfish in. She has since out grown the 5gal version of this tank so I released her to my mothers outdoor pond where she is doing great!

Anyway this tank started off low tech so I could test the waters in a purely planted tank and getting everything just right with the tank. Slowly i added brighter lights. Co2 and a fert dose regimen.

I'll give specs in the next post.

The tank before the rescape:











I got some time to wade through a local trout stream that saw record flood levels over the summer and was able to find some great wood that was uprooted and washed into piles along the banks.

With the wood I created this hardscape:






And this is the initial rescape that I completed today. Let me know your thoughts.





Join the Discussion!

55 comments on "The Bonsai Chi"

  • Zapins
    November 14, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    I really like your tank design. I think you also have quite a knack for taking photographs. I was confused for a while since I thought I was looking at a bigger tank around 40g but it is really a 5g!

    As for your question, editing your own posts beyond a certain time limit is no longer allowed, the site locks you out after a day or two.

    What did you mean by "bg?"

    Also, I have only one suggestion for an otherwise perfect hardscape. The substrate in the front is crooked right under where the wood touches the glass. It makes me want to straighten it right over the internet!

  • XJfella95
    November 15, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks for the constructive criticism! I love good feedback. As there are things that I don't notice that others would notice.

    Ok I'll keep that in mind with my future posts. I update this via my iPhone and I frequently misspell things and I even mixed up my flora - fauna labels. Oh well.

    BG was for background. I'm trying to decide on a lighter color that would compliment the chi vibe.

    I raised the Ph to 6.4 and stopped dosing comprehensive fert. My HC stunted so now I'm dosing again. I don't have anything like aquasoil or dirt in here so I have to use root tabs and dosing.

    My HC is going through emersed growth rejection and I'm praying that the new growth gets a firm grip on the substrate before it is time to trim off the dead. It seems that it grows on itself then out. So it might just take patience.

    Current tank state, PH 6.4, KH 3, NO3 <5, CO2 1bubble every 4sec.

    10% WC Every other day.

    Well its day 16 so here are a few new pics.











  • Zapins
    November 15, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    If its uprooting and yellowing which it appears to be doing it means it isn't getting enough light. HC needs huge amounts of light to be happy. You should lower the light fixture until it touches the rim of the tank.

    The watts per gallon rule of thumb breaks down for smaller tanks. If it didn't then a 1 gallon tank would be fine with 3 watts of light which isn't even as bright as a small flashlight. Watts only measure the amount of electricity being used not how much light is being put out, so if you have an LED of 1 watt it will put out a lot more light then a 1 watt incandescent bulb can simply because it is more efficient and more of the wattage goes towards making light instead of heat or sound. Fluorescents are somewhere in between for the most part with compact fluorescent and t5 HO being at the top (still below most LEDs though).

    Plants have a certain minimum requirement of light in order to grow, if the light is blow the minimum they use up their reserves of sugars and then begin to deteriorate and die (starvation). Each species has slightly different minimums though, and HC's minimum requirements are pretty high which is why they are considered high light plants. The other plants in your tank are mainly low-medium light plants so they are doing alright with the current placement of your light fixture. Lumens are a better indication of how much light the bulb is putting out since it is actually a measurement of how much light is being made. The problem with using lumens as an ultimate guide for lighting is that lumens only measure intensity not what color the light is. Since plants can't use every color (or wavelength) of light the use of lumens just gives you an approximation at best. Even if you use the kelvin rating which tells you what color the bulb is in combination with the lumens it doesn't tell the full story. The Kelvin rating system is all done according to how humans perceive the light which isn't the same as how plants see it. To a person there are many ways of making different colors based on how light combines sort of like how mixing different paints makes different colors. Plants don't see blends of light though, if the light they need isn't there in a large enough amount they can't use it. They do however have accessory pigments which can use some of the "less desirable" light, and if your light has a lot of this type of light then the plant just makes more accessory pigments to compensate. So while lumens and kelvin ratings aren't the theoretical ideal they can work well enough since the plant can adapt to an intense slightly less useful color of light.

    The best measurement is PAR, which stands for photosynthetically active radiation and is a measure of the intensity of light that plants can use for photosynthesis and no other wavelengths. Its done using a special device that has various filters to screen out unusable light (like green light for example). PAR meters are ridiculously expensive though and for the most part are unnecessary for anything other then confirming theories or holding true to the idea of being able to measure and control every aspect of your tank. That being said... I wish I had one.

  • XJfella95
    November 15, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Thanks for the tips

    I wonder if I switch my 10k bulb in the front of the fixture with the 6700k bulb in the back. That'll only solve some of the problems tho.

    I don't want to lower the light back down to the rim of the tank because I have some branches sticking out and wouldn't want to cut them. Plus it takes away from the tank appearance.

    I remember finding some really nice small LED fixtures that I could hang above the tank. I'll see what I can find that will fit this small 11x11 top.

    If i can find something that is twice as bright as my 18watt setup I should be good right? I could always adjust the height accordingly.

    Maybe some of those focused beam LED setups that are out there that way it reduces the light spill.

  • Zapins
    November 15, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Yea 36 watts is a good value to shoot for. The problem with LEDs is that they tend to focus the light in one spot so any plats that aren't in that spot are not going to be happy. Why not a second identical light fixture to what you have now? If you could lower the current lights even a little bit it would definitely help. I think the formula goes something like if you halve the distance you quadruple the intensity. So if you lower your light fixture by 4 inches it will increase the brightness at the bottom of the tank by about 44% if I figured that correctly.

  • XJfella95
    November 15, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Well the top of the tank is 11x11 and my fixture is 11x5. And with the stand-offs it sits 1-1/2" above the surface which allows room for flow and branches.

    I like things to look simple which in this case would translate into being small. I would have to find a pendent at 6700k or one of those expensive aquailluminations nano fixtures...

    I still have some research to do to see if I can find a small fixture with a high output.

    I could replace the bulbs in my fixture with 18w led strips...but no one makes em in anything less then 10k outputs.

  • XJfella95
    November 20, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I decided to put an order together on RapidLED.com. I ordered (3) cool white and (3) neutral white Cree XP-G LED's for a total of 18 watts. I also got these with 65deg optics to get the PAR down to the substrate.

    I'll do a write up on this light once I get the parts, lay out the design in my CAD program and get a custom fixture machined and anodized black.

    Should look real nice when finished.

    I think my coralife fixture isn't T5HO because it seems to already have damaged my lights I put in it. Anyway let's hope my HC holds out until I can get this new light built.

  • XJfella95
    December 2, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Pictures of things to come


    Overhead LED array w/ heatsink


    Driver backpack


    Proposed arrangement.

    Notice the different levels of light through the tank.

    65deg optics for the whites and 80deg for the royal blue moonlight LED.

  • XJfella95
    December 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Joys of using wild wood from local streams.

  • Zapins
    December 2, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Very nice diagrams. I wonder, is it possible to trace the reflections? Light bouncing off the glass can play a pretty large roll in plant growth in our tanks.

    Also, any data on the lumen output of the LEDs?

    Laughs @ the mushrooms



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